Sonics Update

  • Thursday, November 1, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

Opponent: Utah Jazz

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: KeyArena, Seattle

TV: KONG (Ch. 6/16)

Radio: KJR (950 AM)

Festivities: There were extended pregame ceremonies before Thursday’s opener, beginning with introductions of the entire rosters of both teams. The biggest cheers, as expected, were given to Gary Payton. When last season ended, there was no guarantee that Payton would return, and the fans gave a hearty welcome to the team’s longtime star.

With members of the Puget Sound Urban Rescue Task Force (who participated in rescue efforts in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks) lining the court, a taped message from President Bush was shown on the arena’s video screen. Singer Pat Wright then performed “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner” as players and coaches from both teams unfurled streamers representing the American flag on the court.

Seattle guard Brent Barry then welcomed the crowd and recited a light-hearted poem which, in his words, “is appropriately titled ‘Opening Night Poem.’ “

After the two teams exchanged handshakes at midcourt, several Sonics from years past were introduced. The group included Dean Tolson, Talvin Skinner, Russ Schoene, James Donaldson, John Johnson, Slick Watts, Jack Sikma and longtime Sonics broadcaster Bob Blackburn.

Dandy dunk: Desmond Mason put a few frames on his 2001-02 highlight film with a sensational dunk midway through the second period. Mason beat San Antonio’s Steve Smith along the left baseline, then soared for a head-high-to-the-rim jam, drawing a foul from Spurs center David Robinson.

Learning new habits: Seattle’s Vin Baker lost 15 pounds during the offseason, mostly through tedious individual workouts. His new slimmer physique, though, has produced a new set of problems.

“I have to get rid of old fat habits,” Baker confessed.

Such as?

“I have to get rid of the habit of rushing out on the court,” said Baker, citing a tendency that caused him to miss repeated layins the last few years. “I’ve got to concentrate on finishing. I’m getting to the lane (quickly) and now no one is there, but I’m thinking that someone is going to block my shot. It’s going to be a timing thing for me and just getting my confidence going.”

Said teammate Gary Payton: “We’re going to see (the old Vin) this season. I think he’s going to have a great year. He’s got his weight down, he’s feeling good about himself. He’s going to get back to where he needs to be.”

Big on Booth: Though the season is still young, the Sonics have apparently improved their play at center by signing Calvin Booth as an offseason free agent. Booth, though lacking experience as a third-year-player, has displayed a quickness and agility that were missing a year ago during Patrick Ewing’s one season with the Sonics.

“Calvin is a terrific young center,” Baker said. “He knows the game well and he has a great outside shot and he’s a great defender, and he’s willing to learn. He’s been a breath of fresh air on the front line to play with.”

Short shots: Elise Woodward, a Mill Creek resident, will be doing a sideline report during Sonics home telecasts this season. Woodward is a reporter for Fox Sports Net Northwest and did color commentary for radio/television broadcasts of Seattle Storm games this past WNBA season. … Seattle Mariners reliever Jeff Nelson, a big basketball fan, watched the game from a seat near courtside.

Rich Myhre

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Everett freshman Anna Luscher hits a two-run single in the first inning of the Seagulls’ 13-7 victory over the Cascade Bruins on Friday at Lincoln Field. (Aaron Coe / The Herald)
Everett breaks out the bats to beat crosstown rival Cascade

The Seagulls pound out 17 hits in a 13-7 softball victory over the Bruins.

Prep roundup for Friday, April 19

Prep roundup for Friday, April 19: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Silvertips swept out of playoffs by Portland

Everett’s season comes to an end with a 5-0 loss in Game 4; big changes are ahead in the offseason.

FILE - Seattle Seahawks NFL football offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb speaks to reporters during an introductory press conference, on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Renton. Seattle has seven picks entering this year’s draft, beginning with No. 16 overall in the first round. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)
A new era arrives for Seahawks entering 2024 NFL draft

Even with John Schneider still in charge, the dynamic changes with Pete Carroll gone.

The Seattle Storm's new performance center is seen in Seattle on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times via AP)
Storm become 2nd WNBA team to open own practice facility

Seattle debuted its new facility in the Interbay neighborhood Thursday.

Shorewood’s Netan Ghebreamlak prepares to take a shot as Edmonds-Woodway’s Kincaid Sund defends in the Warriors’ 2-1 victory Wednesday night at Shoreline Stadium. (Aaron Coe / The Herald)
E-W weathers Shorewood’s storm in battle of soccer unbeatens

Alex Plumis’ 72nd-minute goal completed the comeback as the Warriors topped the Stormrays.

Seattle Seahawks new NFL football head coach Mike Macdonald speaks during an introductory press conference, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
New coach Macdonald wants his Seahawks to forge own legacy

The pictures of iconic moments from the Pete Carroll era have been removed from Seattle’s training facility.

Prep roundup for Wednesday, April 17

Prep roundup for Wednesday, April 17: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum (10) celebrates after a run during a baseball game between Jackson and Glacier Peak at Glacier Peak High School on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. Glacier Peak won, 5-3. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Glacier Peak baseball blanks Jackson, 3-0

Karsten Sweum’s home run and 14 strikeouts helps the Grizzlies past the Timberwolves.

The Herald's Athlete of the Week poll.
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for April 8-14

The Athlete of the Week nominees for April 8-14. Voting closes at… Continue reading

The Winnipeg Jets’ Nikolaj Ehlers (27) scores on Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) during the second period of their game Tuesday in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)
Kraken need to consider effort levels when building roster

With a playoff-less season winding down, Seattle’s players are auditioning for next season.

Prep roundup for Thursday, April 18

Prep roundup for Thursday, April 18: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.